City Faith – Family’s Ravan, Sector 14, Gurgaon
A working festival.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Every family is busy in its own way. While most of us are eagerly looking forward to Tuesday evening when Ravan’s effigy will be burned down with much fun in our fair grounds, Pradip’s family is busy making those very Ravan effigies.
“Very hectic time for us, we are making dus (10) Ravans daily,” reports Pradip. The family sells these effigies right here on the roadside pavement on Gurgaon’s Sector 14 in the Greater Delhi Region. Indeed, their patch of the rutty ground is taken over by various Ravans in different stages of completion. Some are plopped down on the grass, others are standing upright. Each Ravan is identifiable by its papery twirly black moustache.
This afternoon, everyone in the family is at work “except my wife Pinky who is at home in Sector 12.” There’s Pradip’s saalis (sisters-in-law) Rakhi, Kajal and Pooja; his sala (brother-in-law) Govinda; and his mother-in-law Radha—he doesn’t speak out her name due to deference for her place in the family, asking Govinda to tell it instead.
Preparing chai on an improvised brick chulha, Radha says modestly that “we make two-footer Ravan to others as large as 35 feet.”
Meanwhile, one of her daughters is sorting through colourful papers, the kind used for wrapping birthday gifts. “We make Ravans out of just three materials: rangeen (color) paper, wood and gum,” she reveals.
And how’s the family celebrating the big evening? Where will they go to see Ravan on fire? Pradip laughs. “We’ll still be working here. Ravan sells at least for one more week after Dushera.”
Later, the business will return to what these folks do the rest of the year—making mats and dhurries. Now the family gathers to pose for a portrait with one of their larger Ravans. Mother-in-law Radha is being shy. She is gamely cajoled by others to join the group. Everyone smiles except Ravan.
Work is worship